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TRIAL OF THE GOVERNOR.
On the 28th of July the viceroy arrived in Vera Cruz. His first measure was to cause the governor to be tried for cowardice, and sentence of death was pronounced; but an appeal being made, his life was spared and he was ordered to proceed to Spain. The defences of the city were repaired and strengthencd, and to ensure the earlier departure of the fleet it was ordered that the annual fair be transferred from the capital to Vera Cruz, which was as yet the only port of entry in New Spain, and now for a few years became the distributing point for the merchandise of Seville.
During the remainder of Laguna's administration, the raids of corsairs and privateers continued almost without intermission. On the 3d of August 1683 news was received in the city of Mexico that war was declared between France and Spain, and in the following year hostilities broke out with England. The operations of the English buccaneers were mainly directed, as we have seen, against the cities of Central America; but those of the French filibusters extended over all portions of the coast of New Spain. On the northern portion of Santo Domingo nearly ten thousand of the latter had their head-quarters, all of them
of Vera Cruz are the contemporaneous accounts of Father Villarroel and Antonio Robles. The former, who was assistant parish priest of Vera Cruz at the time of its capture, has left in one of its registers of births a detailed record of this event. It contains occasional repetitions, and, as I have said, there is some confusion in the dates, but otherwise it is clear and graphic. A literal copy is given by Lerdo de Tejada, in his Apuntes Históricos, 273-85, and another copy, less carefully taken, will be found in the Mosaico Mexi cano, i. 399-407. Though the Diario of Robles, i. 370-83, contains only brief items relating to this event, it serves to confirm the main statements of Villarroel and furnishes some additional facts. These are the sources from which the principal writers of later times have drawn their information, though not always conforming to the originals. Among the numerous foreign writers, English, French, and Dutch, who treat of this event in connection with the buccaneers, the author of Sharp's Voyages and Esquemelin are probably the best, though both are biassed, and the latter superficial. The former narrative is meagre, but professes to be taken from despatches sent from Jamaica in August 1683. As his work was published in London during the following year, this is probably the case. Further mention of this writer is made in Hist. Cent. Amer., ii. 510–11, this series, and of Esquemelin in Id., 567. These works are probably the most reliable so far as they relate to the stratagem by which the city was surprised, and to questions of detail relating to the buccaneer armament; for the Spaniards captured no prisoners, and neither Villarroel nor Robles could have known anything definite about these
professing allegiance to the king of France. The waters of the Caribbean sea swarmed with pirates who defied the Spanish cruisers and the armada de Barlovento. All the efforts of the Spanish authorities to rid the seas of this scourge were of little avail. Orders were given that whenever a pirate craft was captured the captain and officers should be shot and the crew sent to work at the galleys in Spain. Nevertheless it seldom happened that a vessel arrived in Vera Cruz without bringing news of further depredations.
At the very time when Van Horn and his gang were sharing the spoils of this city at the island of Sacrificios, a large force of French corsairs captured the city of Guayana with its governor and garrison, and took possession of Margarita and other small islands in the West Indies. Maracaibo was also threatened, and the audiencia of Santa Fé petitioned the viceroy to allow the armada de Barlovento to proceed to New Granada. On the 2d of May 1684 news arrived in Mexico that Tampico had again been sacked by a large force of pirates, and a number of the inhabitants carried off as captives. Two days later the Barlovento fleet sailed in pursuit of them and captured three of their ships. On July 6th of the same year Lorencillo appeared once more in the North Sea, this time off the port of Campeche, which he captured after a five days' siege, and thence marched on Mérida, but was driven back with heavy loss. On his return voyage he encountered the armada under command of Ochoa, and one of his frigates mounting twenty-seven guns was captured by Spaniards. Lorencillo escaped with his own vessel 22 and henceforth appears no more in connection with piratical expeditions on the mainland.
21 Rivera mentions that, during this year, a pirate vessel was captured near Tampico with 104 men on board. The prize was taken to Vera Cruz and 5 of the corsairs were hanged. The rest would have met with the same fate but for a recent order requiring that all freebooters taken captive should be sent to Spain. Gob. Mex., i. 263.
22 Id., 426, 428, 435-7. Ochoa died about this time; but whether he was killed in action is not recorded.
OTHER PIRATICAL OPERATIONS.
Nevertheless the settlers of Mérida were constantly in dread of filibusters. Many of the corsairs when not engaged in their raids employed themselves in the profitable occupation of tortoise fishing, these grounds extending from Campeche to the confines of Nicaragua. Among the numerous keys, islands, or coves of this long stretch of coast they careened their vessels, pursued their fishing, and planned their expeditions, safe from the attacks of Spanish cruisers. The intricate coast of Campeche, with which they were perfectly familiar, was constantly frequented by these marauders, and in consequence Mérida was continually exposed to their attacks. The garrison consisted of but two companies of half-clad and poorly fed soldiers, until after the raid of Lorencillo, when two more companies were sent from Spain. The encomenderos offered to build a wall around the city at their own expense, asking only that they should be released from the tax for the support of cavalry called montado.
During the years 1685 and 1686 the principal operations of the pirates were the raid of Agramon on the coast of Florida, and the expedition of Dampier to the South Sea. The former was driven off with the loss of fifty men. The operations of Dampier, Swan, and others on the coast of Central America have been related in their place; and it has already been mentioned that the latter, accompanied by Townley, resolved to try his fortune on the coast of Mexico, hoping to capture the Manila ship, which at this epoch was wont to leave the Philippines in June and arrive at Acapulco about Christmas. After an unsuccessful attempt to take the Lima galleon from under the guns of the fort at Acapulco early in November 1685, and an equally vain effort to find the town of Colima on the 26th, they reached Salagua, or Santiago, December 1st, and had a skirmish with the Spaniards, capturing two mulattoes, but were unable to find there any such town as was described in the Spanish pilotbooks.
Many of the Englishmen died in this region of a prevalent dropsy following chills and fever. The malady might have been easily cured by certain parts of an alligator pulverized and taken in water, but there were no alligators to be had. On the 11th they sighted Cape Corrientes, and it was their plan to cruise about this place and watch for the galleon; but it was also necessary to obtain supplies, and during one of the raids made for this purpose, the galleon is supposed to have passed by unnoticed; at least the hope of taking her was soon given up, and on January 6, 1686, the fleet separated, sailing from Banderas Valley, where on December 4th they had had a fight with the Spaniards, losing four men and killing seventeen. Captain Townley with two vessels returned down the coast, while Captain Swan continued his voyage northward in the hope of finding towns or rich mines. The northern limit reached by the ships was 23° 30', just above Mazatlan, although Swan went in boats still farther in search of Culiacan, which he did not reach. The fleet turned about on February 2d. On February 11th they anchored at the mouth of the Rio Santiago, or Tololotlan, up which stream seventy men were sent in four boats; but having captured an Indian who could guide them to Santa Pecaque, probably Centipac, Swan set out in person with double that force. The inhabitants ran away, and the town was entered without resistance. Several days were spent in loading the canoes with supplies, and on the 19th fifty men on their way from the town to the landing, each leading a horse laden with maize, were attacked by Spaniards, Indians, and negroes from Santiago, and every man killed, as already related,3 including Ringrose the buccaneer author, who was Swan's supercargo. This disaster discouraged the British "from attempting anything more hereabouts." It was proposed to go to Cape San Lucas for repairs, and they sailed on the 21st, passing the Tres Marías
23 Hist. Cent. Amer., ii. 568, this series.
END OF LAGUNA'S REIGN.
but were driven back thither on the 7th of March. It was now decided to sail for Manila, and after taking water at Banderas they left Corrientes on the last day of March. The men murmured at the long voyage before them, but hoped for rich booty in the East Indies. The historian of the expedition naturally does not quit the coast without having his say about Californian geography and the Strait of Anian. 24
Apart from the raids of buccaneers few incidents worthy of note occurred during the reign of Viceroy Laguna; there was an Indian revolt in New Mexico, and an expedition to the coast of Lower California, which will be related in their place. On the 8th of February 1684, the viceroy received intelligence that his term of office was extended for three years.25 In 1686 his residencia was taken by the fiscal Bastida. The charges were trivial, and about two years later he returned to his native country, where, having made a donation of fifty thousand pesos for some charitable purpose, he received the rank of grandee of Spain, and his son the title of duke of Guastala.
24 Dampier's New Voyage around the World, London, 1699, i. 237-78. The author, Wm. Dampier, was on the fleet, but in what position does not appear. He had left Virginia under Captain Cook in Aug. 1683, had been with Captain Davis in the south, and had come north with Captain Swan. Between 1686 and 1688 several attacks on the coast of Cumaná were repelled by Governor Gaspar Mateo de Acosta, but he was unable to expel a French colony established at the mouth of the river Guarapicheto, and the armada de Barlovento was ordered to proceed to his aid. A number of French pirates were pardoned, and one of them, named Lorenzo, appointed sargento mayor. In December 1686, three prisoners taken at Laguna de Términos gave inform ation that 100 men had been engaged there for several months in cutting logwood and shipping it to Jamaica. Measures were taken by the viceroy to expel them. Rivera, Gob. Mex., i. 263-4. The treaty concluded between England, France, and Holland at this period, whereby these countries were pledged to aid each other in extending their possessions in America, caused much uneasiness to the Spanish crown, and the viceroy was ordered to make vigorous preparations for defence. The forts were repaired, the armada de Barlovento was refitted, another vessel purchased, and Jacinto Lopez Gijon, admiral of the Flemish squadron in the ocean fleet, placed in command.
25 During the previous year an impostor appeared in the person of Antonio Benavides, who represented himself as the marquis of Saint Vincent, a fieldmarshal and governor of the castle of Acapulco. He is commonly known as the Tapado. He was arrested by order of the audiencia, tried, and sentenced to death. While in prison he tried to strangle himself with a handkerchief. After his execution his head and one of his hands were taken to Puebla. The other hand was fastened on the gallows. Robles, 370 et seq.; Cavo, ii. 64; Ordenes de la Corona, MS., iii. 60–1.